June Gardner and the Fellas at JazzFest 2009
Photo by Carl & Peggy Backes
Update: Services for June Gardner will be at the Rhodes Funeral Home, located at 3933 Washington Avenue on December 2, 2010. The Musical Prelude begins at 9:00 a.m., services begin at 10 a.m.
Looking for photos of Albert "Gentleman June" Gardner on stage, there is only a quick glimpse of the man. Known by his friends and onstage as June Gardner, he was one of a small group of band leaders that lead from the back, behind the drums, or the "boom boom" as he would call them.
What made Gardner's music great were the swinging spaces between his rhythm that let collaborating musicians fill out the song. A driving beat kept the piece moving, and the influence of the band leader in the back is apparent, where the rhythm is as much a part of the song as the horns or organ.
Born in New Orleans in 1930, Gardner first came on the scene as the drummer for The Gondoliers, lead by guitarist Edgar Blanchard. In 1963, he played for Sam Cooke on Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club and Sam Cooke At The Copa.
In the late 1960s, he recorded "Mustard Greens" and "99 Plus One" on the Hotline label, located at 725 N. Prieur St. with producer Wardell Quezergue. The band included the recently deceased Walter Payton on bass, pianist James Booker, and George Davis on guitar. Backing up Lee Dorsey, he played the kit on, “Working In The Coal Mine," which reached #5 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1966. It was produced by Allen Toussaint.
Gardner's son, Albert "Lil' June" Gardner Sr., passed away in 1999. He, like his father, had taken up the drums and played with Professor Longhair, The Neville Brothers and Irma Thomas.
In recent years, Gardner made an annual appearance at JazzFest with his band June Gardner and the Fellas.
This page will be updated with information about memorials and services.
To listen to clips of 99 Plus One, check out Tuff City.